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  1. A friend of mine, who is a wonderfully gifted writer and all round excellent person once gave me an excellent piece of advice. 

    Writers are so much more intelligent when they're writing.

    He's not wrong. He rarely is. Since I like to refer to myself as a writer, let's forget the massive hiatuses, and pretend the I have a modicum of intelligence and have been writing for you all this time. However, I am making a more manageable commitment to actually saying the things that I want to say on here - Instructions Not Included will now be receiving a weekly update. 

    Speaking of writers, let me talk to you about one who does write regularly, and is therefore far more intelligent than I am!

    You may or may not have come across Adam Brown, who is Senior Editor over at Diatribe, and an all round nice guy with a lot of knowledge. I had the pleasure of participating in his session at Children With Diabetes - Friends For Life 2017, about Writing About Diabetes (yes, I know, I know). He spoke to us about his great book, Bright Spots & Landmines. I had seen it popping up all over my social media in the lead up the 2017 conference and had been meaning to lay my hands on a copy. Being the nice guy that Adam is, he let me have a copy then and there. 

    There was one, teeny tiny thing however. It's a problem I find with a lot of otherwise fantastic books about D-books. 

    They're always in mg/dl. Which, you know, I understand. If you're from the US and you're writing for a majoritively US based market, you want to write in their 'money'. For the rest of us out there, however, it's somewhat frustrating - I've sat with a calculator and pencil, dividing all the measurements by 18 and jotting things down in margins many a time. So I decided to actually do something - I asked Adam if he would do a mmol/l version. 

    And this is what he wrote down for me.

    The end result?

    That was an email from Adam recently saying he wanted to let me know personally that he'd been good to his word! And not only had he done a Kindle version, but he'd also done a full on, hold it in your hands, honest to god hard copy.

    So I took a moment to catch up with him again at Friends For Life 2018 (yes, that is now THREE conferences I've been to, which is really hard to believe) -see below

    It is a great book, I really do recommend it. I'd love to see it really making a splash over in the foreign lands that are mmol/l speaking versions. So what do you do if you want to get your hands on a shiny new hard copy of this 

    The  All-Important Giveway Related Bit

    So I have ten copies of Adam's book to give away. A kind request - please only enter if a mmol/l version is actually going to be useful to you or someone you love. Otherwise that's a lot for me to spend in postage!

    • Entries are going to be open until the end of Sunday 12th August (that's UK time!) 
    • Winners will be chosen at random from a hat. 
    • To enter your name into the draw, comment on this post. 
    • You can earn an extra entry by following me on Twitter (@instructionsni) and sending me a tweet with the hashtag #brightspotsgiveaway 
    • Check back here in the week commencing 13th August, as I will be announcing the winners on that week's post.
    • If a winner does not get in touch with contact details, I will redraw for an additional winner and reach out to them.
    Good luck everyone, and I'll be back next week, trying to sound intelligent. Or at least honest. Let's go for honest. I can manage that.

  2. Love is ON!

    Monday 17 October 2016

    I've spoken recently about being proud to be associated with Beyond Type One. Trust me, nothing has changed there. I think they're a fantastic organisation who are doing amazing work. Which was why I was particularly proud to be asked if I would join in with the efforts to help propel Beyond Type One to the winner's podium for Revlon's Love Is On challenge. 

    Not sure what this is? Here's the nutshell version :

    Revlon are offering organisations like Beyond Type One the opportunity to win a million dollars. Within a fundraising window whichever organisation raises the most will gain the million and the exposure that a giant like Revlon can grant as an added bonus. Plus they get to keep however much has been raised along the way (naturally).

    Pretty great right? This is fantastic opportunity to get Type One into the spotlight. There are plenty of chances for those who donate to go into prize draw for some amazing incentives and if you donate at certain times, Revlon are even offering donation matches. I'm all for donation economy,  so I'll be donating at one of these moments to try and get some added value.

    I'm thrilled to be a captain for today's fundraising as part of the non US based contingent. But I can already hear your mind going 'But Becky, why should we donate to this? You're not from the USA, surely there's something based in the UK that you should be supporting instead?'Hmmm, fair point. You're right, there are plenty of UK and European based organisations, but let's dig a little deeper.

    There are plenty of aspects of Beyond Type One's work  that are accessible to people anywhere in the world. The Snail Mail Club and the app are just two easy to point to examples. There's also the simply awesome fact that grants from Beyond Type One are helping fund research, advocacy, outreach and day to day, practical, boots on the ground type help all over the globe every single day. Have a quick read of the portfolio of other organisations they're working with. I was fascinated.

    However, I would love to see an influx of support from those of us not in the US. Let's be the cavalry charge that helps propel this awesome organisation into the forefront of people's minds.

    I've decided not to have my own individual fundraising page, so if you're up for helping out,  head over to visit the main donations page.Any time is a great time to donate, but if you donate either 20  or 100 dollars at 19:00 GMT on 18th, Revlon are going to match the first 100 donations made at that time, so that is a particularly good time!

    Maybe you can't donate, but could you help spread the word to someone who might be able to? This is something that can be won if we work together. Beyond Type One have the motto and mission statement of Educate, Advocate, Cure. I think those are things we can all agree on. I personally love it. Love is ON! Let's do this!

  3. Beyond

    Thursday 25 August 2016

    I really love the word beyond. It means more, it means future. It may also be the name of a TV series I've been writing in my head for years, but that's beside the point. I was really thrilled to get to meet some of the amazing team from Beyond Type One at Friends For Life. I can't remember exactly how long we were talking for in the end, but judging by the number of topics we covered, it must have been a good long while. I was impressed by the upbeat, positive attitude and week welcoming spirit that came across. We talked about the possibility of my writing a couple of pieces for the site and it was great to get an email shortly after after landing back in the UK getting the ball rolling. I pitched a couple of ideas and I'm proud to have had the first one go live on the Beyond Type One site this week.

    I'd encourage you to go and have a read here, and check out the other amazing stories that
    other people have submitted. There are als lots of ways you can get involved as well. If you're not already, make sure you're connected on Facebook and Twitter. I'd also suggested downloading the Beyond Type One app. It's free and very a great way of getting connected with people. I've only recently downloaded it myself and I'm still finding my way around, but I'm loving having it handy on my phone.

    Another really brilliant programme that the BT1 team are running is the Beyond Type One Snail Mail Club. Get yourself an old fashioned pen pal! Seriously, who doesn't like getting snail mail? I used to have multiple pen friends as a kid, but pretty much all I get in the post these days are bills, appointment reminders and bank statements. Far too dull and adult for my taste. I've signed up and I had this turn up on my doorstep the other day -

     - brilliant! What's not to love? I can't wait to get writing. Why not join in yourself?

  4. True Colours

    Wednesday 3 August 2016

    I realised something about myself recently. I realised that whatever big event is coming up next in my life, whether it be going to university, moving city, a new job, a big meeting, starting on a pump...well, whether it's something I want or not, I get cold feet. Somewhere deep within me there's a little voice that pipes up - You don't want to do this. It's all going to go wrong. You're wasting your time/your money/your efforts. No-one's going to want you there, why are you even bothering. It's a mistake. 

    I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of that voice. But I am very familiar with it. It's been talking to me for a very long time. So I wasn't surprised that a couple of Sundays ago I was having, shall we say, second thoughts. Why? Because after saving up for over two years and having bought transatlantic flights, I was headed to Orlando the next morning to join the 2016 Friends For Life conference. This was something I really, really wanted to do and had been excited about ever since I'd hit that 'OK' button for my registration. This was going to be my first holiday since a trip to Belfast 10 years ago. My first time out of the UK since 1993. My first flight since being diagnosed. My first international trip alone. Big, scary, financially-consuming stuff. Stuff that I wanted to do, but yes even this had me having cold feet. What if no-one liked me? What if it wasn't what I hoped it was going to be? And don't get me started on the horror stories I'd heard about trying to get through airport security with a pump and a CGM on!

    I didn't really sleep very much that night. Even on the way to the airport I was nervous.  But this was the adventure I had waited so long for. I wasn't going to let it beat me - a little side story for you here: back in 2005, I was flooded out of my university home in Carlisle when some pretty serious flooding took out a huge proportion of the city (seriously, have a quick look on google images). I found myself temporarily moving in the box room of a complete stranger from the university staff who took pity on my literally having nowhere else to go. As I sat in her box room with a suitcase, my little portable TV and a couple of black bin bags I told myself 'If you can do this, you can do anything.'. And I do remind myself of that from time to time. And it was a bit late to change my mind anyway, because somehow there was some strange time anomaly in Manchester Airport and the time I thought I would have to kill disappeared in minutes and I was getting ready to take off - by this point I was just rolling with it. Besides, I love flying - I've only done it a handful of times in my life, so it still has a huge novelty value to me. 

    When we finally landed, I was struck by a couple of things. Number one was how much bigger everything seemed to me (along with the distinct lack of pavements - how do you get anywhere if you don't drive, like me?), but the bigger and more important thing was how FREAKING HOT it was. When I got off the plane and walked through the airport, I found myself thinking 'Wow, yeah, that's hot - people weren't kidding me.'. Then I walked outside. Yeah. THAT'S hot. And I will talk about what the heck that does to my levels another time. 

    I was dying to get into things by this point, to meet the amazing Cara finally in real life, share a room with her and thank her for being wonderful and dealing with so many bookings, phone calls, emails and reservations on my poor befuddled behalf. But first, I walked around the hotel on a strange circuit for longer than I care to admit. Was I really here? Was anyone else here for FFL as well? Was I hungry? Did I want to sleep? And more importantly, what time was it? No, really WHAT TIME WAS IT and WHY WAS IT SO HOT? And why were there so many irish dancers everywhere? 

    Answers in order: Yes, yes there were, yes I was, yes I did (but not yet), I still don't know, Orlando, and...stupidly large competition.

    I needed to get over that first stage of 'what the heck is going on?'. And when I did,  I relaxed into the spirit of things. I'm going to go into various particulars in more detail over the coming weeks, but what I found were things I didn't expect and didn't even realise that I was looking for. People at home who saw my photos and posts on social media told me 'Becky, you look so happy', 'Becky you look like a different person'. I don't think I was a different person. I think I was me. The me that feels most real when I'm really thinking about the sort of person I want to be. Swimming in the cool(er) night at about 10:30 one evening, I found myself turning to Cara and saying; 'I feel the most like me that I have in over two years. I feel like myself again. I'm not saying all my rubbish has gone away, because it hasn't, but I can see it for what it is now. I feel like I can try and take it on again.'

    And why was that? Because amongst the amazing sessions and socials that I went to, I met wonderful, wonderful people. Some of them were people I had Skyped, tweeted, Facebooked, emailed and all that good stuff over the years, but they were there, right in front of me. I could have a drink with them, exchange a joke, give them a hug. It was something really tangible. They joined those that I can't overlook - those people that I didn't know, but now can't imagine my life without. It was people understanding that (even if I had to do some quick calculations) a number actually meant a real-world feeling. It was laughing, it was crying - sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a cathartic, unexpected way. It was finding complete and utter joy in the mundane. It was feeling confident to jump in the pool wearing a bikini without body shame, with my (sadly non functioning!) Dexcom and my (thankfully functioning just fine) pump on full show without the majority of the pool giving it a second glance. It was sharing low remedies, mucking around in photo booths, debating the carb values of Starbucks Cinnamon Morning buns when balanced off the amount of walking we were doing between sessions. It was being terrible at roulette, dancing to Journey, debating coke versus pepsi. It was bacon and fruit punch. Iced tea.It was seeing green and orange wristbands everywhere you looked. It was standing at registration and finding an orange-banded d-sibling I'd met only the day before wrapped around my waist because they were just that glad to see me.It was everything and it was more than I could have ever imagined. It was feeling completely safe. Normal. Wanted. Valued.

    At the family banquet, there was a slide show of photos, set to Cyndi Lauper's True Colours, a song I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to again without finding a little part of myself tearing up. This time in a good way. So many pictures, so many faces, so many wristbands - the green for those of us living with Type One, the orange for those there who love us. All in that one room because they were part of this - this tribe, this family of people who would probably never have met, but have each other's backs and hold each other's hands throughout all of it. Seeing green and orange and green and orange, grabbing hold of life and living it to the fullest.

    Yep. True Colours. With the 'u' and everything.'

    I think there were some people at home who didn't quite get why I wanted to go to a 'diabetes conference' for my holiday. The couple of days doing theme parks after the conference? That they all got, that was completely understandable, but the rest of it? That was just weird. Maybe it is, but I honestly couldn't care less. I found what I needed. I found a new home. 

    At the banquet, they also played Green Day's I Hope You Have the Time of Your Life. I did. I honestly, truly did. I thought this was going to be a once in a lifetime trip. I'm not sure how, but it won't be. Because I'm hooked.